Ringleader: Joe Neric
MSRP (2009): $11,499
Average Fuel Mileage: 41 Mpg
Accessories & Modifications: Firstgear Silverstone Tail Bag, Honda Carbon-Fiber Tank Pad, Tech Spec Gripster Pads
After three months and 2600 miles of trying to convince myself that the CBR600RR isn't that great, I give up. For me, this is the world's best sportbike, mostly because it refuses to do anything wrong. We even got through the first bit of scheduled maintenance without a hitch. Changing the engine oil and filter at 600 miles was easy, even if you do have to remove some fairing bits to lay hands on a filter that lives directly above the exhaust headers. Being somewhat mechanically reclined, I spilled oil all over them. The good news is I don't have to do it again until the odometer rolls over 8000 miles.
No scratches under that trick carbon-fiber tank pad. Honest. Tech Spec's Snake Skin grip p
Meanwhile, I changed a few things to make the two of us more compatible. Tech Spec Gripster Pads ($44.95 from www.techspec-usa.com) keep me from sliding my junk into the fuel tank under hard braking. Installation was easy: Heat the surface with a hair dryer, peel and stick. The pads blend nicely with the Honda's graphics and the shape of its tank, plus they're removable and reusable. Those confrontations with my crotch scuffed up the back of the tank a bit, but a genuine Honda Carbon-Fiber Tank Pad ($34.95; www.powersports.honda.com) covered the evidence and should prevent further damage...to the tank, I mean.
My 27-mile commute takes 45 minutes to an hour in traffic, which makes wearing a backpack uncomfortable. Firstgear's Silverstone Tail Bag ($119.95 firstgear-usa.com) literally takes the load off my back. Handy external pockets carry bungee cords on one side and a tire plug kit on the other. Another pocket up front packs a rain cover and shoulder strap for easier handling off the bike. Unzipping the flap reveals 100 cubic inches of cargo room-enough to swallow my lunch, an extra face shield and even some homework. It expands to 830 cubic inches to let me haul an extra full-face helmet, but the coolest features are adjustable dividers to separate sensitive contents.
Ditching the backpack in favor of this Firstgear tail bag lets me arrive at any destinatio
After noticing a tendency to squat under acceleration with the factory suspension settings, I dialed up spring preload on the rear shock. That was a step in the right direction, but the bike still squats. As it stands, shock spring preload is five clicks stiffer than stock-the ride home wasn't much fun when I tried six-and the fork's spring preload adjusters show one line less than when I started. Now I have a choice. Go on a diet, or find someone to help me find spring and damping rates to match my weight and novice-level skills. Guess which one I'm going with...
Aftermarket suspension of some sort is next on my shopping list, but I don't what to blow the budget, so we're talking rebuild, not replace. Stay tuned.